POYNTZ, Sir Nicholas (by 1510-56), of Iron Acton, Glos. of London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1510, 1st s. of Sir Anthony Poyntz of Iron Acton by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir William Huddesfield of Shillingford, Devon. m. 24 June 1527, Joan, da. of Thomas, de jure 5th Lord Berkeley, 5 or 6s. inc. Sir Nicholas 3da. suc. fa. Sept. 1532/Feb. 1533. Kntd. Apr. 1535/Oct. 1536.2

Offices Held

Keeper, Kingswood forest, Glos., Flywood forest, Som. 1531-d., New Park, Berkeley, Glos. 1531-5, Michaelwood chase, Whitcliff park, Glos. 1533; steward, bp. of Worcester’s lands, Glos. 1533-40, manors of Kingswood abbey, Glos. 1537; j.p. Glos. 1537-9; commr. for surrender of Kingswood abbey 1538, musters, Glos. 1542, 1546, of Admiralty in Nov. 1547, relief 1550; groom, the bedchamber 1539; sheriff, Glos. 1539-40, 1545-6; capt. Gret Calais 1544; v.-adm. of the western seas 1544; bailiff, the seven hundreds of Cirencester, Glos. by 1547.3


Nicholas Poyntz came from a family which had been established in Gloucestershire for over 200 years. His grandfather, Sir Robert Poyntz, had been successively vice-chamberlain and chancellor to Catherine of Aragon, and his father, while making his reputation as a soldier and commander, also held office in the royal household.4

Nicholas Poyntz’s marriage into the Berkeley family involved him in frequent litigation with his wife’s kinsmen over her claim to certain property. He was also sued in the Star Chamber for assault and for poaching and in 1533, as steward to the bishop of Worcester in Gloucestershire, he was accused of holding courts and taking fines without his master’s permission. In spite of his allegedly wayward character, he had influential friends. Sir Richard Rich appealed to Cromwell in 1538 to favour ‘my friend Sir Nicholas Poyntz’ in the purchase of former monastic lands. In the following year Richard Cromwell alias Williams* appealed to his uncle in the same cause, saying that Poyntz was ‘in very ill case, having with great reproach in his country, sold his lands to pay’ for them, and adding that he himself ‘would rather lose much of his living’ than that Poyntz should suffer. Poyntz was summoned before the Council in October 1541 to answer to charges preferred against him by the council in the marches and imprisoned in the Fleet; he was not released until June 1542 after his wife had appeared before the Council to plead for him. Before he was set free, Poyntz was required to make an agreement with James Higgs over the manors of Ozleworth and Wotton Combe, Gloucestershire. Their quarrel was not, however, settled and Higgs sued him in the courts of Chancery, requests and Star Chamber during the reign of Edward VI for the illegal distraint of the same manors.5

Poyntz had become a soldier at an early age. In 1534 he fought in Ireland under his ‘cousin’, Sir John St. Loe. In 1536 he served under Sir William Kingston during the northern rebellion: early in 1543 he was assigned to go with (Sir) Robert Bowes to the Netherlands, but by July he was in command of a patrol guarding the Bristol Channel and its approaches. During 1544 he was active on land and at sea; in March his ship was among those of the lord admiral’s squadron which were delayed by a storm off Tynemouth; in May he took part in the Earl of Hertford’s raid on Kinghorn; in June Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, asked the Council to allow Poyntz to remain at Calais because he was a good officer; and in July he distinguished himself in an action before Hardelot castle. In the following year he was employed against pirates. His military career was to continue after his election to Parliament, for in 1549 he commanded a company against the western rebels, probably working in close association with his relative and fellow-Member, Sir Anthony Kingston.6

After 1532 when he went to Calais with the King, Poyntz was often present at court for important state occasions, such as the christening of Prince Edward, the arrival of Anne of Cleves, and the welcoming of the Admiral of France in 1546. In 1540 and in 1545 he purchased lands in Gloucestershire formerly belonging to Kingswood abbey for nearly £1,000, but by 1546 he was in debt and was forced to surrender part of his property to the King for arrears of rent.7

Local influence alone might account for the return of Poyntz as knight for Gloucestershire in 1547, when his uncle Nicholas Wykes was sheriff, but as a distinguished soldier he probably had government support as well as the particular favour of the Seymour family with whose members he had had dealings earlier in the decade. Poyntz’s connexion with the Seymours was strengthened at an unknown date by the marriage of his daughter to an illegitimate brother of the Protector Somerset. Evidently Poyntz was a close adherent of Somerset for on 26 Oct. 1551, ten days after the Protector’s arrest, Poyntz was sent to the Tower, where he remained until 4 Mar. 1552 when he was brought before the Council. As his servant was granted privilege on the following 9 Apr., it appears that he had returned to his seat in the House by that date. On the list of Members compiled for the fourth session, Poyntz’s name was at first deleted and noted as ‘extra Regnum’ but this marginalia was later struck through and ‘stet’ entered by his name. There is no other record of Poyntz’s absence from the kingdom at this time, so it is possible that the clerk was in error.8

Poyntz maintained his connexions with the Seymour family. On 19 July 1553 he reported the rumour of Queen Mary’s acclamation in London to St. Loe who was then at Longleat. Poyntz was apparently loyal to Mary at first, since he had ignored Jane Grey’s order to take arms against Mary’s supporters, but it is doubtful whether he remained so. He has been identified with the Sir Nicholas Poynings mentioned as an ‘assistant at the Tower’ during Wyatt’s rebellion. While posted there he was supposed to have offered suggestions for the defence of London to the Queen. According to the imperial ambassador, however, Wyatt, with whom Poyntz had business and family ties, admitted Poyntz’s complicity in the rebellion. His cousin (Sir) Gawain Carew was arrested for his support of Wyatt but the Council left Poyntz alone. In 1556 he was ‘vehemently suspected’ for the Dudley conspiracy, of which Sir Anthony Kingston was one of the leaders. In the meantime Poyntz had sat in the Parliament of 1555 as a Member for Cricklade, where the Berkeleys had influence, and had followed Kingston’s lead in opposing a government bill.9

Poyntz was again left unmolested but died shortly afterwards on 27 or 28 Nov. 1556, leaving his wife as guardian of his four younger sons. His will, made earlier the same year on 26 Feb., provided against his eldest son, Nicholas, denying the others their inheritance. He also mentioned £200 which he owed John Seymour ‘so that he assure my daughter Jane a living’. He did not bequeath any money to charity or the Church. His religion, if any, was probably Protestant as he is said to have built his house at Ozleworth with the ‘stones pulled from the crosses in the parishes thereabouts’. He had witnessed the Protestant dean of Westbury’s attempt to imprison Anne Berkeley’s priest for playing games on Sunday and for reading popish books. Several paintings of Poyntz after a drawing by Holbein survive.10

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Elizabeth McIntyre


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first office. Cricklade, ed. Thomson, 139; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 128-9; J. Smyth. Berkeleys, ii. 235; iii. 225; E315/239/24; PCC 37 Horne.
  • 3. J. Maclean, Mems. Poyntz Fam. 71; Stowe 571, ff. 56v-7; E315/239/24; Worcs. RO, 009:1 BA 2636/178 92517 ex inf. C. Dyer; Dugdale, Monasticon, v. 428; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxviii. 313; LP Hen. VIII, v, vi, viii, xii, xiv, xvii, xviii, xx, xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 354; SC6/Edw. VI, 187, f. 12; HCA 14/2.
  • 4. VCH Wilts. viii. 37; DNB (Poyntz, Sir Francis); LP Hen. VIII, i, vii.
  • 5. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxi. 28; lxviii. 48; lxxix. 306; LP Hen. VIII, vi, xiii, xiv; Smyth, ii. 235, 262-5, 268-9; St.Ch.2/4/221-4, 6/270, 3/6/39; PPC, vii. 250-1, 263, 276, 286, 288; APC, i. 5, 8-9; Req.2/16/18.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, vii, xi, xviii, xix, xxi; APC, i. 250; Maclean, 71; HMC Hatfield, ix. 205.
  • 7. HMC Bath, iv. 2; LP Hen. VIII, ix, xii, xiv, xv, xvii, xx, xxi; DKR, x. 256; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lxxiii. 150, 189-91.
  • 8. Wriothesley’s Chron. ii. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xx), 58; Hatfield 207; CJ, i. 22; HMC Bath, iv. 377.
  • 9. Wilts. Arch. Mag. viii. 310; Strype, Cranmer, 913; Maclean, 72; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 51; LP Hen. VIII, xix; D. m. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 92n, 210-11; Wilts. N. and Q. iv. 158; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 10. Smyth, iii. 307; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xi. 213-14; PCC 22 Wrastley; C142/107/51; Holbein (The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace 1978-9), 92-93.